Will clear appointment of judges on ‘top priority’, Centre tells SC

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi made the assurance to a bench led by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur on Monday after a chamber hearing.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published:October 5, 2016 6:12 am
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THE GOVERNMENT has assured the Supreme Court that it will process on “top priority” the proposals relating to appointment of judges that have been pending for more than three months despite being cleared by the collegium.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi made the assurance to a bench led by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur on Monday after a chamber hearing.

The bench had decided to take up the matter inside the CJI’s chamber and not in open court after the AG had submitted in sealed-cover envelopes the status of proposals sent by the collegium for judicial appointments.

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An order released Tuesday stated that Rohatgi submitted two such status reports, disclosing that 26 names have been cleared by the government for appointment as judges in high courts. This list includes 16 appointments in Madras High Court, five in Kerala, three in Chhattisgarh and two in Jharkhand high courts.

“He further states that the government would process on top priority basis such proposals…pending for three months or more after their clearance by the collegium. He prays for time till October 28 to file a further report on the subject, indicating the progress made,” the order stated.

Sources told The Indian Express that various other names were also discussed during the chamber hearing of a clutch of PILs on delay in judges’ appointments. It was pointed out to Rohatgi that 26 appointments have been made out of more than 110 names recommended by the collegium for appointment as HC judges, the sources said.

Among the names discussed, it is learnt, were some recommended nine months ago, and in certain cases the government was sitting on a file despite the apex court collegium sending the recommendation at least twice. Rohatgi said that he would get details of all such instances and revert through a status report by the next date of hearing.

The CJI, who also heads the collegium, had decided to entertain the batch of petitions for hearing in August, when he warned the government that the top court would be “forced to interfere judicially” to break the deadlock on appointment of judges pending the finalisation of the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP).

Seeking a status report from the AG, Justice Thakur had then said: “We won’t tolerate a logjam in judges’ appointment. It is stifling judicial work. We will fasten accountability now. Why is there mistrust? If this logjam continues, we will be forced to interfere judicially. Don’t try to bring this institution to a grinding halt.”